Rick Owens is a fashion designer who is known for his avant-garde and often dark designs. Owens first came to prominence in the early 2000s with his “Grunge” collections, which featured distressed, oversized clothing in dark colors. Since then, Owens has continued to push the boundaries of fashion with his unique aesthetic. His style usually features black or earth-toned colors that form close to your body’s natural build. Owens is also known for his unconventional use of materials, such as leather, wool, and even paper. While his designs may not be for everyone, there is no denying that Rick Owens is a talented and innovative designer.
Who is Rick Owens?
Born in Porterville, California, in 1962, Owens originally studied design at Otis College of Art and Design for two years before diving into pattern-making and draping courses at Los Angeles Technical College. This led him into the fashion industry where he started designing his own clothing. He then launched his fashion line in 1994 operating out of Hollywood Boulevard. He then moved to Paris in 2003 with his now-wife Michele Lamy, they later married in 2006. He has had all of his runway collections created and shown in Paris since then.
Rick Owens Aesthetic
Rick Owens is known for his dark, avant-garde aesthetic. His designs often incorporate muted colors and distressed fabrics. He also frequently features models with unconventional looks, such as shaved heads or piercings. Owens has said that he designs for “people who dress to feel powerful.”
Owens’ work sometimes draws comparisons to a gothic or antihero look. He would agree as he has been coined “fashions prince of darkness” He is also known for his scandalous, edgy runway shows which often feature models who walk to the beat of the music with deadpan expressions on their faces.
Notable Rick Owens Designs
Rick Owens is a world-renowned fashion designer who has created some truly iconic pieces over the years. Some of his most notable designs include the Geobaskets/Dunk, Creatch cargos, and the Stooges leather jacket.
The Geobaskets are perhaps Owens’ most recognizable design. Initially introduced in the Fall/Winter 2006 collection labeled “Dustulator” as the Dunk. He wanted to put his own spin on athletic sneakers because he thought they were too “boring and lacked poetic beauty”. He took inspiration from Puma, Nike, and Adidas and created these large and bulky sneakers. Nike then sued Rick Owens for the original dunk design because of the “swoosh” on the side of the shoe that looked similar to Nike’s checkmark logo. He then changed the design to be the now known as the Geobaskets. Today the huge increase in popularity of the Rick Owens Dunk can fetch up to $3000 for an original pair.
The Creatch cargos are Rick Owens’s most popular and infamous pair of pants. Introduced in the Spring/Summer 2008 collection, these cargos have almost made a reappearance in every collection since then. They are billowing and oversized with an elasticated waist and cuffs. The most notable feature, however, is the large cargo pockets on the legs.
The Stooges leather jacket is another one of Owens’ designs that have become iconic. It is a cropped, boxy fit with asymmetrical zip closure. It is made from 100% lambskin leather and is lined with 100% cotton.
Rick Owens Awards and Achievements
Rick Owens has been awarded numerous times for his contributions to fashion.
In 2017, Owens was given the CFDA’s Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2002 the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Perry Ellis Award for emerging talent. He has also won the Cooper-Hewitt Design Award for fashion design and the Fashion Group International Rule Breaker Award in 2007. December 15, 2017, was the first museum exhibition and retrospective of his career, which traced his work over 20 years. The Triennale di Milano presented Owens’ inaugural museum show and retrospective, entitled “Subhuman Inhuman Superhuman”. At the 2019 Council, he won Menswear Designer of the Year.
Rick Owens has won numerous awards throughout his career and for good reason, his styles are original and break the norms of fashion in many cases. He continues to grow as a designer to this day and still experiments with new ideas. This is only part of why he has been so successful.
Rick Owens and His Furniture
In addition to his work in fashion, Owens also designs furniture, lighting, and other home goods. His furniture was originally designed for himself to use in his Paris residence. He gets inspiration from the brutalism art movement and World War II. His work can be seen as minimalistic yet bold with elements from nature and earth. His side tables feature elk antlers, his chairs feature a variety of fur, and even some benches are made with camel skin. His first furniture show was in Berlin in 2010. Publisher and long-time friend Angelika Taschen helped make this possible for Rick Owens. She was impressed by his furniture designs and wanted his work to be showcased in her hometown of Berlin.
Owens credits his wife as the creative force behind his furniture. Owens says he comes up with the initial drawings and then Lamy creates the initial models. Before his wife hires a team to create and manufacture the furniture, the two together make adjustments to the initial model. Owens then leaves the rest for Lamy who finishes the installation of the furniture and writes the summaries for each piece.
Rick Owens Books
Rick Owens has authored 3 books. L’ai-je bien descendu? was published in 2007 and is a book full of black and white photographs. This book is also scarce as only 1000 were made and each one is numbered respectively. His next book was named after himself Rick Owens and was published in 2011. It is a detailed account of Rick Owens’s fashion and documents over a decade of style and fashion. Also in 2011, he published a book titled Rick Owens Furniture which provides insight into his and his wife’s furniture designs throughout the years. Finally, in 2019 he created 2 books about the late fashion designer Larry LeGaspi. LeGaspi was a huge influence on Rick Owens throughout his career.
Rick Owens is one of the most beloved, avant-garde high fashion designers currently working. His unique, dark vision has been celebrated by some of the most well-known celebrities and style icons alike.